We truly are in the golden age of performance cars, as you can now buy a compact sedan, coupe and hatchback that have the performance of mid-engine, exotic supercars from only a decade ago. The Audi RS3 Sedan might be Audi Sport’s smallest and least expensive car but it’s also one of its most exciting and fun. In fact, it’s one of the most fun small cars on the road today. But it isn’t alone, as there are two other small, affordable performance machines in the RS3’s segment that are also quite good — the BMW M2 and Mercedes-AMG A45. So which of the three is best? Car Throttle finds out.
In this new comparison test, the Audi RS3 Sedan, Mercedes-AMG A45 hatchback and BMW M2 coupe take each other on to see which is the best tiny performance machine. Aside from price point, each of these three cars are quite different. Not only are they different body styles but they all have different engines and power/performance figures. The Audi RS3 uses a 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-five cylinder engine, while the BMW M2 uses a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six and the AMG uses a 2.0 liter turbo-four.
Although, each of these three cars have very similar transmissions. All three cars have their own in-house-made seven-speed, dual-clutch transmissions, with their own cute names. Both the Audi and the AMG have all-wheel drive while the BMW M2 makes do with just rear-wheel drive.
The Audi RS3 makes 400 hp, the BMW M2 makes 365 hp and the AMG A45 makes 376 hp. So the RS3 is clearly the most powerful and it’s also the fastest. Sprinting from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, the RS3 is quicker than the M2 (4.1 seconds) and the AMG A45 (4.3 seconds). It also has the most charismatic engine of the bunch, the RS3. That little turbo five-pot, with its odd firing order, makes an aggressive and raucous growl that the other two can’t match.
In terms of driving dynamics, the BMW M2 is probably the best driver’s car of the trio, thanks to its rear-wheel drive chassis and near-perfect balance. However, its steering is a bit numb and its engine falls a bit flat in the excitement category. And the Audi RS3 Sedan isn’t far behind, in terms of dynamics. Its front-end is probably the best of the bunch, with razor sharp turn-in and change of direction, and only at the absolute limit does it suffer from understeer. The Mercedes-AMG A45 has the most understeer of the bunch and the worst steering. It makes up for that with the most compliant and comfortable ride but it lacks the handling agility of the other two.
Overall, Car Throttle chose the Audi RS3 as the best car in the test, with the BMW M2 in second and the AMG at third. The RS3 might not be quite as chuckable and balanced as the M2 but its raucous engine note, indomitable grip and pugnacious attitude make the the most exciting to drive.